What did we do? identity3.JPG

We spent an introductory period an one full day at Kaleen High School where we carried out a self-designed rich task based on the theme of Identity. We completed this rich task with students from an English enrichment class. The main object was for the students to create a large mural which illustrated the “things that affect our Identity”. The mural was to be informative and visual and was to include a variety of creative features along with examples of primary and secondary research.

How did we do it?
Lesson 1
The first introductory lesson involved a few members of the Learning School team travelling from UC SSC Lake Ginninderra to the Kaleen High School to meet with the twelve students. These students were from the English Enrichment class offered at to grade 9 and 10 at Kaleen. The meeting was set up to explain the project and give the class an understanding on why they were being going to be involved in the creation of an Identity mural. Planning for the students to recieve an introduction to the project was very important to our research as it acted as an ice-breaker. Ice-breakers are great ways to build confidence and comfort between the students and LS members. It was important for the students to feel comfortable working with our group and to be fully aware of the relevance behind their work.

This lesson included class discussions on the factors affecting people’s identity and answering the questions ''What is a House? What is a Home?'' We wanted the students to think more indepth about the topic, allowing them to prepare themselves for the task ahead. The lesson ended with students thinking of three material things which they felt represented their own identity. These ideas were then shared with the rest of the class along with a brief explanation behind each choice. This was done as a task for the students to think about Identity and the personal things which affect their own.

Lesson 2 (Full day workshop)
This lesson began with a recap of Learning School and the significance of the task about to be carried out. The students were organised into a board-like meeting with a Chairperson and secretary being appointed. It was discussed that every so often the class would hold these meeting over the course of the day to ensure that all of them were on task and understood the direction they were taking. The group then had an in-depth discussion, run purely off of their own thoughts about the aspects which affect identity and what they felt were the most significant attributes. They then discussed how they wanted to create their mural: thinking about the design, the content, the layout, their roles with in its formation etc. 

The students decided that each of them would contribute a piece of work on the things which affected their identities such as their environment, their thoughts, their interests etc. This piece of work could be done in any format, be it artistic, written etc. These would arranged on the mural and then they would also include some primary research from a school survey carried out at lunchtime. The class had times of individual work throughout the day but would always return to their group format for the meetings and worked together at the end of the day to put the mural together with all the information.

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Why did we do it?
We aimed to use this project as a way of exploring ways in which students can take control and responsibility for what they learn and how they apply themselves to their lessons. Also, we wanted create an example where pupil-led learning successfully showed the potential within a classroom.

The task was designed to develop the individual’s personal skills, along with, developing the entire class’s co-operation and responsibility.

The Learning School members acted as facilitators throughout the entire task, guiding the students when necessary but not choosing or dictating directions to them. This was purposely done to investigate how the students reacted to having so much flexibility, freedom and responsibility.

Through creating this rich task we were able to demonstrate the true ability pupil-led learning has to assist students to prepare themselves for their future. This was done by touching on not only their academic skills but also, their social skills, their communication skills, their responsibility, their practical skills, their creativity, adaptability, their confidence, their patience, their time-management, their problem solving, their independence and many more useful attributes sought in employment.

We wanted this rich task to be an example of where a variety of learning techniques were used to help create a visual, artistic and informative piece of group work. We were evaluating the use of the specific learning techniques in order to further our understanding of the possible future of education.

Did the project work?

At first the students struggled a little with having so much freedom, they were unsure on what direction they wanted to focus and couldn’t quite focus themselves. But, after a little guidance from the facilitators starting their discussion, they successfully took control and worked together to format their ideas into a group image an understanding.

Through having so much freedom and resources available to them, each individual student was able to express the things which affect their own identities very clearly through the method which suited them best i.e. painting, drawing, doodling, writing, researching, etc.

The format of the board meeting was very successful in keeping the class on task as when anyone felt it necessary, they were able to call a meeting and clarify any confusions and indecisive ideas. This allowed all of the students to stayed focused as much as possible throughout the day and all work with the same focus and end goal.

One of the main criteria of this type of rich was the flexibility it had. This was identity2.JPGreasonably successful as students were able to adapt the project around their own ideas and understanding of the set topic. Although, it did take a bit time for the class to grasp their responsibility for completing the mural. As the students were given a timeline to have the mural complete, they were able to plan their work to ensure they met their target. This was quite good for them individually as they could focus their commitment and drive towards and end goal. Although, the project lasted the entire day so some students found it quite hard to stay 100% focused and on task for the length of time allocated. This is something which we realized as the day progressed and meant that the facilitators at certain times stepped into action by trying to re-focus the students. Overall, the end product of a mural was completed by the end of the day. It was very visual, creative, informative and unique to the class. Each student had contributed and they had worked hard as team to ensure its completion. They developed their own skills as well as their class co-operation resulting in quite a successful rich task.

Student feedback
“Today was really fun, I loved the activity we did and the product we produced! Thanks” – Jennifer
“Everyone has had a wonderful time. This was a great opportunity” – Kiah
“Thanks for a fun day” – Sam Belin

Acknowledgements Learning School thoroughly enjoyed their time at Kaleen High, working with the students and teachers together to create such a good piece of work. We would like to thank all staff and students for their participation and also for their lovely card and gifts at the end of the day. Hopefully, the students felt that the day was as useful to them as it was to us and we will keep in contact with Kaleen High from now and into the future.

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